Dubai £500,000 Cesarewitch Stakes | Class 2 | 2m2f | 3yo+ | ITV/RUK
Mullins hoping seven are magnificent
Willie Mullins is mob-handed with seven runners as he bids for a first victory in the famous Newmarket marathon.
His leading fancy, long-time ante-post favourite Stratum, is owned by professional punter Tony Bloom, who pulled off a memorable gamble in the race 12 months ago with Withhold – now a leading contender for the Lexus Melbourne Cup.
Stratum appears to have the perfect profile for a Cesarewitch and spearheads the Mullins team, which also comprises Whiskey Sour, Limini, Low Sun, Uradel, Law Girl and Meri Devie.
Four of those contestants are in the top ten in terms of the betting, which illustrates the formidable strength in depth to the Mullins challenge.
Mullins said: “All of them seem in good form and we're fielding a big team because of the huge prize-money. Stratum looked unlucky in the Ebor last time. He's in good form and has shown he stays well. He could still be well handicapped.
“There's little to choose between Limini and Law Girl on their running at Leopardstown last month. Limini has a 4lb penalty but is in great form and will like the ground and the trip. The ground is crucial for Law Girl – she needs it to stay on the fast side. Whiskey Sour ran well when sixth in the Ebor and has a nice draw. He's been working well.
“Uradel has won over 2m1f and should stay the trip, which will really suit Low Sun. Meri Devie has been disappointing this season but is capable of better and her homework is good enough for her to take her chance.”
De Sousa out to be Cesarewitch king again
Silvestre de Sousa is fast developing a reputation as the Cesarewitch king, having ridden the winner of the race in three of the last five years.
The champion jockey was aboard Withhold when Roger Charlton’s runner turned the contest into a procession 12 months ago, and also steered Sweet Selection (2016) and Scatter Dice (2013) to success.
De Sousa teams up with gambled-on Vis A Vis this time, and the progressive four-year-old appears to have rock-solid claims of giving him another fantastic ride.
Unbeaten in two starts this year since joining the Neil Mulholland team, Vis A Vis is expected to relish encountering the stiffest stamina test of his career.
Mulholland said: “We’ve had the Cesarewitch in mind for a long time. We’re hoping the step up in trip will bring about further improvement from him.”
Cliffs Of Dover 'a lively outsider'
Jumps trainers have a good record in the Cesarewitch, with the likes of Alan King, Philip Hobbs, Nicky Henderson and Tony Martin successful in recent years.
Once again they are widely represented, with perhaps the most intriguing candidate being the Paul Nicholls-trained Cliffs Of Dover.
The five-year-old, a smart performer over hurdles, has taken advantage of a favourable mark on the Flat in 2018 with wins at Lingfield (twice) and Haydock.
Although now 23lb higher in the weights than at the beginning of the year, Cliffs Of Dover, who is ideally served by good ground or faster, ran a blinder in the Mallard Handicap at Doncaster last time, and could improve further for the step up in trip.
Nicholls said: “He’s a lively outsider. He’s been running well on the Flat, and stayed on really well last time. The step up to this trip will be in his favour.”
What they say
John Gosden, trainer of Precious Ramotswe
She has a lot of weight, and her draw in stall 25 may not be the best.
Ralph Beckett, trainer of Here And Now
He’s in good shape. I’m very happy with his wellbeing. I think he’ll get the trip, but whether the track plays to his strengths we’ll have to find out.
Hughie Morrison, trainer of Fun Mac
I think it’s unlikely, but you never know. We could have done with some rain to ease the ground, but he’s not badly handicapped on some of his form. He’s got the ability to be right there.
Aidan O’Brien, trainer of Southern France
It’s a big ask for a three-year-old who has plenty of weight, but he ran well in the St Leger and we think he’ll stay the longer trip. The ground will suit and we’re going to learn much more about him with next year in mind.
Andrew Balding, trainer of Cleonte and Night Of Glory
This has been Cleonte’s target for a while. He’s in great shape, and brings a good level of form into the race. The trip is no problem, and I hope he has a good each-way chance. Night Of Glory stays very well. He’s in good form too, but is drawn right out wide.
Gary Moore, trainer of Kloud Gate
If he comes back to the form he showed at Newbury when second to Stratum then he must have a good each-way chance. It isn’t the best draw in the world, but there's no reason why he won’t run well.
Tony Martin, trainer of Golden Spear
The winner got away from the whole field in the trial last time but our fellow beat the rest of them and came out of the race well. He was fifth in the race two years ago. We're very happy with him and, hopefully, he'll give a good account.